Title: Maneater
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Blindside Interactive & Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive & Deep Silver
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: GTA lite underwater
Price: £25 / $30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Maneater is unique as it let players take control of a shark from its infancy right up through elderly stages. As you survive underwater and complete various objectives, your shark will grow up and get stronger. Are you ready to rule the waters?

Maneater is an open (water) world game where players roam the deep blue sea of the Gulf. As you navigate the waters, you’ll come across grottos where you can take a breath and upgrade your shark as the game also features RPG mechanics.

As you evolve from baby shark to elder shark, you’ll earn new skills such as a sonar or teeth which can be upgraded as you munch down aquatic snacks or humans. Eating not only rewards players with XP but also health. So if you’re in a tough battle, use your sonar to find nearby, smaller fish to eat to stay alive.

Not only will you be taking on underwater wildlife, but also humans will be gunning for you. If you thought eating swimming naive NPCs would be a cakewalk, think again. Sometimes you’ll be able to snack unnoticed, but other times, hunters will be alerted and hunt you down. It’s a bit rough to get away but easier than escaping underwater threats such as gators. The minor issue is here even deep underwater, if you swim under a hunter’s boat, without being aggressive, they’ll still find you and shoot you.

Combat is simple yet somewhat deep. While your main attack is chomping on enemies and humans, you can jump out of the water and eat humans from certain types of boat. Boats, especially hunter boats, are tougher enemies as you have to destroy the boats in order to kill the hunters or “lesser” humans. You have a tail whip which allows you to deal damage to the boat; obviously, if you’re under-levelled, boats could seem like an impossible obstacle as hunters’ weapon do a lot of damage. A bit of grinding is required in order to survive.

The game has a bevvy of collectables to find underwater and out of water. You’ll discover various areas, chests with substances that will help you upgrade your skills and XP and collectables. Some collectables are easy to grab as they are underwater; while others are above water and require players to jump or flop around the ground for a few seconds. Some items can only be collected after reaching a certain age range as either you need to jump high enough or a get past a gate that requires a certain “level of maturity”.

My main gripe with Maneater is that enemy encounters can be frustrating. Right off bat, as a level 1, baby Shark, you’ll come across level 8 Crocodile that will eat you up in a matter of seconds. It’s a bit frustrating as unlike most open-world games, it’s harder to escape the dangerous threat, and seeing them will have you having to come up with different paths to take or find ways around them. Even at even level, crocodiles are a pain. But the game would’ve benefited from having them spawn a little bit later than right off the bat.

The game looks great overall. Definitely not visuals of the year, but the underwater settings are well designed and thought out. Each hidden area has its back story and the grottos are colourful and detailed. While not fully explorable, above water looks great as well for what we can see. Humans are OK looking; mostly generic design except for main hunters. Audio-wise, the game sounds like a National Geographic special as narrator Chris Parnell, of Saturday Night Live and Archer fame, explains shark behaviour mixed with a few humoristic quips.

Maneater is definitely one of 2020’s gems. It came out of the left field with little fanfare, but it’s a great surprise. Sure, it’s not perfect and a bit rough around the edges, but the overall package, combat, navigation, exploration, are enjoyable and will keep players busy for a while. Don’t miss it, it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

The Good

  • Great premise
  • Addictive gameplay

The Bad

  • Can get repetitve
  • Coming nose to nose with higher level enemies early on

Family Focus

Maneater is rated M for Mature by ESRB and PEGI 18 due to the presence of blood, gore, intense violence and strong language.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher